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Artemis
Greek Gods

 

Artemis is the Greek goddess of wild animals and of the hunt. Although she was noted for her chastity, she was also regarded as a goddess of vegetation (particularly wild vegetation) and childbirth. Daughter of Zeus and Leto, sister of Apollo, Artemis was associated with the moon, as a complement to Apollo's association with the sun. Her cult was the most popular among ordinary Greeks. She was believed to dwell in wild places, accompanied by a retinue of nymphs. Arcadia was said to be her favorite haunt. Artemis was noted as a terrible adversary when angered, symbolic of the sudden and capricious fury of nature. The most famous example of this is the story of Actaeon, the youth who chanced upon the goddess while bathing on Mt. Cithaeron. Enraged, Artemis changed him into a stag, in which form he was pursued and killed by his own hounds. It was as a goddess of women's life in general that Artemis acquired her seemingly contradictory role as a goddess of fertility and childbirth. As goddess of the tree cult, her festivals were characterized by dances of maidens representing tree nymphs, or dryads. Artemis was depicted as a young woman bearing bow and arrow, often accompanied by a stag or a hunting dog. A torch carried in the hand sometimes signified her lunar aspect.

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